Germany and Slovakia Agree to Swap Deal in Effort to Aid Ukraine

The governments of Germany and Slovakia agreed to a deal on August 23 under which Slovakia will send its Cold War-era armored fighting vehicles to Ukraine, with Berlin providing the Slovak armed forces with Leopard 2 main battle tanks in return.

The swap illustrates an ongoing effort by European nations to provide older Soviet-designed hardware to the Ukrainian military to aid in its efforts to counter Russia’s invasion.

In return, NATO partners of these nations are attempting to backfill capabilities reduced or stripped bare by such armaments donations.

For its part, Germany refers to such deals as “ring swaps” and has provided its own legacy hardware to NATO allies.

The hardware donated to Ukraine is primarily sourced from used and/or retired stocks of central and eastern European nations once tethered to the former Soviet Union through the anti-NATO Warsaw Pact. Because the Ukrainian armed forces are primarily equipped with such Soviet-era, Russian-produced material, the transfers are seen as an efficient means to provide weaponry that requires no training or new infrastructure and can be readily rushed to the front lines of the battlespace.

At the same time, the donating country – be it the Czech Republic, Estonia, Poland, Slovakia, or Slovenia – reduces its existing inventories of hardware. In some cases, the donated materiel is already retired or in need of repair, though in others the equipment is still in operational use, however limited. Because of the generally slower pace of modernization and re-equipping of their militaries, these former Warsaw Pact nations are hoping that such equipment swaps will aid in their interoperability efforts with NATO partners while expediting sorely needed hardware upgrades.

In this instance, Slovakia will provide 30 tracked BVP-1 infantry fighting vehicles to Ukraine while receiving 15 Leopard 2 tanks in A4 configuration in return.

Previously, Slovakia gifted a Russian-produced S-300 air-defense missile system to Ukraine, with Germany, the Netherlands, and the U.S. donating a Patriot air-defense system to Bratislava to backfill the transferred capability.

In addition, Slovakia has provided Ukraine with eight 155mm Zuzana 2 self-propelled howitzers (SPHs) and thousands of Grad multiple-launch rocket systems (MLRSs).

More recently, reports of a potential sale of 11 MiG-29 combat aircraft from the Slovak Air Force’s inventory to Ukraine at the cost of EUR300 million ($298 million) have emerged. The reports indicate that Slovakia intends to decommission this fleet – inherited following the breakup of former Czechoslovakia in 1993, and via a 1995 debt reduction arrangement with Russia – by the end of August.

While the Slovak Air Force awaits delivery of its new F-16 Block 70/72 V combat aircraft, the country’s airspace would in turn require regular patrolling by Czech and Polish fighter contingents.

About Daniel Darling

Dan Darling is a senior analyst covering both the Europe and Asia-Pacific regions for Forecast International's International Military Markets group.

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